New Orleans is known for its Cajun and Creole dishes like gumbo and jambalaya as well as soul foods like po’boys and fried gator, with an emphasis on seafood ingredients (given its proximity to the Mississippi and the Gulf). Restaurants offering these dishes are ubiquitous in NOLA—present on every block and teeming with people as a proxy for quality—so this guide is not that. (I am certain you won’t have trouble finding great oysters, po’boys, or jambalaya at all.)
Instead, this guide is for the Instagrammer seeking a treat within a beautiful backdrop; the family looking for kid-friendly options and no judgement; and the foodie in search of a muffaletta sandwich or beignet better than Cafe Du Monde’s.
Instagram-worthy spots with good food and great interiors
#1: Couvant (at the Eliza Jane)
The Eliza Jane is a hotel renovated from seven historic warehouses (knocked through to create enough space), boasting original brick and metalwork throughout. The beautiful lobby is worth walking through, before ending up at Couvant, the hotel’s French brasserie housed within the original Peychaud’s Bitters factory. The menu is updated daily based on what’s in season and found at local farmers’ markets.
Looking for a seat at a bar with antique-brass finishes or in a light-filled cafe area with Monstera leaves peeking out behind you? How about an artsy tiled wall or a hot-pink neon sign to pose next to? Justine is furbished with a more modern and updated aesthetic while situated in the heart of the historic French Quarter. The menu offers quintessential French classics with hors d’oeuvres like onion soup and escargot, and entrees from croque monsieur to steak and moules frites, to bouillabaisse.
#3: Auction House Market
Located in the hip Warehouse Arts District, the Auction House Market is fittingly both warehousey and artsy. This indoor food hall serves up everything from Filipino lumpias to Indian dosas, to dimsum and empanadas stuffed with gumbo…and more. The interior aesthetic is industrial-modern, softened with some cushioned seating and a generous sprinkling of green foliage.
Kid-friendly restaurants near top attractions
#4: Palace Cafe
Located along Canal Street at the foot of the French Quarter, the Palace Cafe is a great dinner option after a full day of fun at the aquarium and the insectarium. The spiral staircase in the center of the restaurant may make this place seem too formal for young kids, but the atmosphere is surprisingly casual with a very accommodating waitstaff. The kid’s menu offers classics like chicken tenders, angel hair pasta, and grilled cheese—and they can even make adjustments for dietary restrictions. (Our son has a dairy-protein allergy and the breading in the chicken contained dairy, so our waiter suggested grilled shrimp with fries instead—which was a hit.) As for adults, this award-winning Creole restaurant is best known for their signature crabmeat cheesecake. As for entrees, I recommend tasting the shrimp tchefuncte and the catfish pecan. Make sure to make reservations in advance as this place gets booked up.
Located next to City Park (on the south end where the NOMA and the Children’s Museum are), MOPHO is a family-friendly Vietnamese-fusion restaurant with a local twist. You can build your own pho bowl with premium toppings like duck confit or order a vermicelli bowl with proteins like Louisiana jumbo shrimp. There are also “Po-Mi” sandwiches (think po’boy + a banh mi) with options like hot sausage or fried shrimp. The kid’s menu offers smaller portions of simpler flavors, like a chicken noodle pho or a meatball rice bowl. The food was so good, I forgot to take photos—but I did manage to snap one of the dessert: a lemongrass ice-cream sandwich with gingersnap cookies. Incredible.
#6: Reginelli’s Pizzeria
Located near Audubon Park and the zoo, this pizzeria is a decent option for picky eaters given that there aren’t many restaurants in the residential neighborhood to begin with. In addition to specialty pizzas, the menu also offers sandwiches, baked pastas, salads, and a wide range of appetizers. One of the more interesting offerings was the “Reginelli gumbo” pizza topped with andouille sausage, shrimp, and pickled okra.
Vacation-mode noms worth the calories
#7: Cochon Butcher
Cochon has a full staff of butchers who make all of their cured meats, sausages, and fresh cuts—claiming to butcher, craft, smoke, and cure over 2000 pounds of meat each week. All of their bread, pickles, jams, sauces are also house-made while the rest of the ingredients are sourced directly from local farmers. The sandwich menu offers a wide range of options from pastrami to cubano to cheese steaks, but given that New Orleans is the birthplace of the muffaletta, that is Cochon’s most popular sandwich of all.
District’s donuts are made from scratch with all natural ingredients (down to their sprinkles) with a rotating set of options every week. The biscuits and buns for their breakfast sandwiches and sliders are also baked fresh daily while the other ingredients are sourced from local farmer’s markets and vendors. If you love donuts and breakfast sandwiches, it’s worth trying the croque madame here.
Coffee & beignets better than Cafe Du Monde’s
#9: The Vintage
Transport back in time at The Vintage and enjoy some coffee, wine, or cocktails with various bites and beignets. The fancy cream-filled beignets are worth trying and a lot crispier than Cafe Du Monde’s. There is no table service, so please order at the bar or counter.
#10: French Truck Coffee
If you’re looking for craft coffee with a broad range of options from espresso drinks to pour overs and cold brews, French Truck Coffee is the place to go in NOLA. The New Orleans iced coffee is a popular option, which is a dark cold brew served with chicory and milk.
Coffee connoisseurs know that Stumptown isn’t unique to NOLA, but this one is attached to the Ace Hotel, meaning the interior is drop-dead gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. (The coffee is of course, really good, too.)
If you really must try Cafe Du Monde’s conveyer belt beignets and machine drip coffee, instead of waiting three hours in line outdoors at the French Market location, I suggest visiting the City Park location housed in the renovated, historic Casino Building. Afterwards, you have the option of walking off the calories in the 1300-acre park!
Got unique finds or memorable eats not mentioned above? Let me know in the comments! Looking for things to do in NOLA with your kids? Check out my post on 14 kid-friendly activities including museums, parks, and local flavor!